When is a Chapter Done?

I officially submitted my first chapter (yay!). I have chunks written for all the chapters, but am now focusing on finishing individual chapters rather than writing bits and pieces throughout.

Finishing a chapter is a challenge, because how do I know when it’s actually done? It’s easy to keep tweaking, to check “just one” more article or book, and to wordsmith every sentence. There are definitely parts that I don’t consider quite done, but at this point I need feedback before I finalize. My rationale is that I don’t want to spend extensive time on a certain section if it will be removed or I need to take it in another direction.

This is a different process from writing an article, which needs to be very solid before submission (though editing and feedback will occur). The AFS series editor provides feedback throughout the whole book process, which is extremely helpful. I included notes and questions about my thought process, as well as specific parts I want advice. As I wrote previously, writing and feedback is a conversation. An editor’s review raises points I didn’t consider, and answers the questions I have.

There’s no particular way to know when a chapter is done. Truly, no chapter will be officially done until the book goes to press. Right now, it’s when what I’m doing is more tweaking and refining, instead of writing. While I want the language to be professional and clear, at some point a copyeditor will refine the text for consistency and to meet SAA’s standards. I strive to achieve those standards, but I also recognize that a fresh review will fix what I overlook. Plus, setting it aside for a while will give me a new perspective when I receive feedback and go to revise it.

It is a good feeling to officially have one chapter done, though I have several to go. It’s progress, and motivation to move on to the next chapter. Writing a book is a slow and long process, but it’s definitely moving along.

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